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The Journey to Now; Part I

She filled up an A4 page with all forms and calligraphies of the three lettered word ‘NOW’. All the time old memories of Sit Zeinab persistently pouring back to her mind. Sit Zeinab the dark huge Sudanese English Language teacher. How did a young Sudanese woman manage to be the only local staff among troops of British and Egyptian expatriate teachers? And, at a time when the Anglo/Egyptian Condominium colonization restricted formal education to a handful of male students, and girls were taught only needle work and the like by the effort of their families.
Spell the word NOW. –N – O – W: NOW; - Repeat. – NOW; AGAIN. – NOW….
Use NOW in a sentence. – I am standing up NOW. Come in NOW. NOW what?
What part of speech is…….
You never told us Sit Zeinab that Now is an instant in time or a spot in a place at the far end of a long hard to travel road, I wonder if you ever managed to reach it Sit Zeinab in your short lived life; may Allah bless your soul.
Here is my road to Now. I can’t say whether I am at the beginning or approaching the end. When I reach it I would then decide if it is a point in time or a spot on Earth or just another legend like the ‘Present’ which you reach and get ready to live but it turns its back and becomes past!

My teacher father came in late and called me to his divan. He handed me a small Penguin book, small print, and said: Try to read this; my friend the khawwaja (Englishman) gave it to me and said it is a good book; he wanted to tell me the story but I told him that my daughter reads English. At eleven I was in my second year of Intermediate school and my father wanted me to read Oscar Wilde ‘The World in the Year 2002’!
I accepted the challenge! He never asked me about the book but a few days later he brought me a Longmans Dictionary and said ‘the khawwaja said this will help you’;
George Orwell’s Animal Farm followed and many more. It is clear my father understood that he set me right at the starting point to the road. A road he found so hard that he once stated on a letter a short while before his sudden death: ‘I am sure you, with your brother,
will help your sisters’.

Now, at 20, as I was getting ready to travel on a Ministry of Education scholarship to Beirut, I find myself in charge of a family of ten children of all ages from 24 to 3 and an exceptionally wise and patient mother who managed their life so well that I felt I was a millionairess.
I am now set on the way to a ‘Now’ that keeps trotting off whenever I got nearer.
A tall handsome English man knocked at our door one morning; all houses in the neighbourhood (mostly my uncles’) opened their doors and peeped, three of my little sisters came running to me while two stood watching the calm Mr Tom Job waiting at the gate: Asha, Asha, a khawwaja wants to see you, he is waiting outside. Call him in, my mother said. I met him half way to the veranda and after greetings he broke the news: Asha, the British Council is offering you a two year scholarship for a TOEFL diploma at the University of Leeds. If you accept fill this form up and you have a mee………..
Now what, Sit Zeinab?
Salamualeikum Uncle. – Ahmmm. – I am going to Britain to study. – Who is going with you? – We are eleven teachers. – Men or women? -9 men and we are two. – Go home, no girl of ours will go that far alone!
My uncle never spoke to me after that sentence, when I returned after 2 years, he already died.
My mother faced everyone and she just ordered me to go to Khartoum for the meeting and fly from there.
‘Now’ seems nearer thanks to my mother, the heavy burden is half lifted now that the only brother is back from his scholarship in Moscow. Fly Asha, your father’s dream is coming alive.
To be continued…..


JaniceW's picture


I am not sure who said this but "Happiness is not a destination in which you arrive, it is your journey there." You have indeed had an inspiring journey and I look forward to you sharing the rest of this great adventure of yours with us all. I have no doubt that your father is smiling from ear to ear with the pride that we all share in you. With best wishes,

asha's picture

Now Janice..

Now it is you inspiring me, I was not sure whether this would interest anybody or just bore them! Being a life long teacher turns one into a chatter box; I feel if I don't pour it down it will explode inside me.
Do you see the end of the road as 'happiness' then?
What are the synonyms to 'happiness'?
Sense of achievement does make us happy but I don't see my 'now' as having anything to do with me - necessarily - It is a 'find' more than a 'feel'. woops..I hope I don't sound materialistic.
Thanks Janice for being there


fatma's picture

your NOW has arrived many times!!

with a journey like yours i think your now has arrived several times....with every new achievement and success a new NOW popps in......i hope you continue pursuing after another...and continue achieving them....
i'm looking forward to episode2 of your spectacular journey which im sure is so full of inspirations....for a sudanese woman from a time when women education in sudan was a big taboo to be here today....a teacher of thousands of young men and women all over sudan is definitely an inspiration to all of us.......
im proud to read on....and follow...and learn from the lessons of determination in your life...not just proud like my friend janice....or a fellow sudanese fighter...but proud also like a daughter should be of a mother like you!

asha's picture

Stay Put Shiraz

Thank you, you and Janice are a wonderful force team.....Now is a hard to get target, so if you think I managed to hit it 'many times', I should be grateful for such luck. I am grateful for having you around, just stay put I am coming back...
God Bless


You have made me stop to reflect about this. I love that!

Do you see the end of the road as 'happiness' then? What are the synonyms to 'happiness'?
Is there ever an end to the road? And if there is, is that end "happiness" and how do we define it? I see happiness as a practice growing out of faith, grace, gratitude, hope, and love. We talk about joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, smiles and tears, the ecstasy and the agony. The experience of one intensifies our awareness of the other. The joy in our life's journey is not necessarily the seeking of happiness but the experience of living in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Truly living, by being engaged in your life and shaping it as best you can.

It's interesting that you do not attribute your "now" with you. I think I understand what you mean but I see it slightly differently in that I see you being where you are as being a direct result of a million little actions and decisions made along the journey because you exist. Your father's English friend sharing his love of books which your father passed on to you, your literary exploration, the encouragement to become educated, your acceptance of the scholarship... Had the reaction to any one of these moments been different, it would have changed your "now". Thus, I feel you own your "now". This is not to say that this is or is not the best place for you right now but just that many decisions along the journey have brought you to this "now".

It would be interesting to see how others view this. My thoughts are a direct result from my life's experiences, my history, my cultural background and teachings, and the choices I made along the way. Would others see it differently? I wonder....

Nusrat Ara's picture

i wish there were more women

i wish there were more women like you and especially your mother. The world would have been amuch better place.

Lots of love and best wishes.


asha's picture

My Mother

Salam Nusrat,
Thanks Nusrat, but the world around us is full of splendid women that really deserve a capital 'W'!
Or else beautiful coincidences like that won't happen! Do you know what my mother's name is?
Make a good guess? Exactly.....Nasrah!!! To the same meaning like yours....Nusrat: both in Arabic
meaning: Victory or Victoress! So, I don't think you need to take the hint as you are already on the Victoresses


Kizzie's picture

Asha, I just started

I just started following your journey, it's inspiring and I truly appreciate reading every word you write.
I'm glad you grasped the opportunity to study abroad and advanced yourself. I'm sorry it was at great personal cost:(

I will continue the journey now:)

best wishes,

asha's picture

Company appreciated!

Dear Kizzie,
A journey always is made easier if there is a friendly companion. I am pleased that you are giving your precious time
to honor me with your company. Waiting for your welcome comments.
Keep well,


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